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USA | För lång tid framöver kommer man att studera Donald Trumps valkampanj. Var den unik eller kan strategin kopieras av andra?

strategy

En bra början är att studera varför de övriga republikanska presidentkandidaterna inte lyckades stoppa honom.

James Fallows, som en gång ingick i Jimmy Carters kampanjstab och numera är på tidskriften The Atlantic, pratade med några strateger om hur man försökte hantera Trump.

After the fact, representatives of all the fallen candidates told me that none of it was inevitable, and that Trump could have been stopped if any of the others had imagined that he would go as far as he did. “If you put any of us in a time capsule and told us a year ago that he might be the nominee, then each candidate would have tried to prevent it in their own way,” Alex Conant, the communications director for Rubio’s campaign, told me after Trump had locked things up. “We all thought that the summer of Trump would not last. So our early strategy was not just to ignore him but actually to try hard not to offend his supporters, so we could be the alternative to him when he inevitably went down. He largely got a free pass until it was too late.” Tim Miller, who worked for Bush, agreed that the other non-Trump candidates were more intent on finishing one another off than attacking him when he might have been vulnerable. “By the end, Marco was scoring points against him,” Miller said. Before his humiliating loss to Trump in his own state of Florida, which forced him out of the race, Rubio was attacking Trump for his ignorance about policy and mocking him on hand size and blowhard traits. “But Marco was already sinking by then, so it was from a position of weakness rather than strength.”

“The rest of them were convinced that Donald Trump didn’t need to be defeated,” Stuart Stevens, who was Mitt Romney’s campaign strategist in 2012, told me. “That was a convenience, because they didn’t have to take him or his supporters on. With Jeb and Rubio, it became like the Bosnian civil war—more into killing each other than winning.” Meanwhile, Trump cruised ahead.

No one can say whether an earlier attack might have finished off Trump. It’s clear that the free pass he received allowed him to dominate and diminish his opponents […] “Low-Energy Jeb.” “Little Marco.” “9Lyin’ Ted.” His impulsive approach also paralyzed the other campaigns. “When we did our debate prep, we wondered how you can prepare to debate against someone who doesn’t prepare at all himself,” Alex Conant said. “I don’t think Trump had any idea what he was going to say until he said it. All you could be certain of is that if he said something funny or outlandish, that would dominate the news, and you’d be even further behind.”

Trump didn’t “win” all the debates, nor was he always effective minute by minute. When questions got into details of policy, he would set himself on pause until an opportunity for a put-down occurred. “With eight or nine others onstage, he could pick a moment to position himself as the alpha,” Tim Miller said. “And eventually the media got conditioned not to say negative things about his debate performance, since whatever he did, he rose in the polls—while for Jeb or Marco or Ted Cruz, any mistake was seen as ‘devastating.’ ”

James Parker, även han på The Atlantic, konstaterar att Trumps sätt att kommunicera gör det svårt för en motståndare eftersom han inte hade ett politiskt budskap i traditionell bemärkelse.

Trump-space is not democratic. It depends for its energy on the tyrannical emanations of the man at its center, on the wattage of his big marmalade face and that dainty mobster thing he does with the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. But it is artistic. Within its precincts, the most vicious and nihilistic utterances retain a kind of innocent levity: They sound half-funny, theatrical, or merely petulant. The scapegoating and bullying are somehow childlike. This is why, so far, no political strategy has succeeded against him. It rolls on, his power grab, his wild Trumpian trundling toward the White House, because he’s not doing politics at all. He’s doing bad art. Terrible art. He can’t go off message, because his message is “Look at me! I’m off message!”

Det blir svårt att tänka sig att någon kommer att kunna kopiera Trumps stil i kommande valkampanjer. Trump framstår som genuint unik i sin still.

I USA kommer det kanske räcka med en variant av Lloyd Bentsens put-down i vicepresidentkandidaternas valdebatt 1988. Bentsen fick Dan Quayle att krympa rejält i tv-rutan med klassikern ”You’re no Jack Kennedy!” Kanske kommer det att räcka med ett ”You’re no Donald Trump!” för att stoppa nästa Trump-wannabe.

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VAL 2016 | Tror Donald Trump på vad han själv säger? Eller är det bara ett sätt att skilja ut sig från mängden och få gratis uppmärksamhet?

The Hollywood Reporter from 10 June 2016

Frågorna blir aldrig riktigt besvarade när Michael Wolff träffade Trump för The Hollywood Reporter.

Men rubriken på hans artikel – ”Politics’ ‘Dark Heart’ Is Having the Best Time Anyone’s Ever Had” – säger en ungefär var Wollf landar i sin bedömning av Trump.

”The biggest thing is the theme. It’s what he always wants to come back to. Bigness is unavoidable and inevitable. Bigness always wins”, skriver Wollf.

Det skulle förklara varför Trump alltid pratat om sig själv. Ju mer vi pratat om honom ju mindre utrymme blir det för Hillary Clinton.

Detta kan möjligtvis kallas en valstrategi. Men en framgångsrik sådan? Knappast. Väljarna röstar inte på politiker bara för att de är fascinerade av dem.

If there’s any pattern to his conversation, it’s that he’s vague on all subjects outside himself, his campaign and the media. Everything else is mere distraction.

[…]

I broach his problems with women and Hispanics and the common wisdom that he’ll have to do at least as well with these groups as Mitt Romney did in 2012. The ”pivot” is the word more politico pros are using to refer to his expected turn to the center. ”Unless,” I offer, ”you think you can remake the electoral math.” He says he absolutely can. So no pivot. ”It’ll be different math than they’ve ever seen.” He is, he says, bigger than anything anyone has ever seen. ”I have a much bigger base than Romney. Romney was a stiff!” And he’ll be bigger with the people he’s bigger with, but also he’ll be bigger with women and Hispanics and blacks, too. He believes, no matter what positions he holds or slurs he has made, that he is irresistible.

[…]

It is hard not to feel that Trump understands himself, and that we’re all in on this kind of spectacular joke. His shamelessness is just so … shameless. So how much, I ask — quite thinking he will get the nuance here — is the Trump brand based on exaggeration? He responds, with perfect literalness, none at all. I try again. He must understand. How could he not? ”You’ve talked about negotiation, which is about compromise and about establishing positions that you can walk back from. How much about being a successful person involves … well, bullshitting? How much of success is playing games?”

If he does understand, he’s definitely not taking this bait. I try again: ”How much are you a salesman?”

Salesman, in the Trump worldview, is hardly a bad word, and he is quite willing to accept it, although, curiously, he doesn’t want to be thought of that way when it comes to real estate. But as a politician, he’s OK as a salesman.

In this, he sees himself — and becomes almost eloquent in talking about himself — as a sort of performer and voter whisperer. He is, he takes obvious pride in saying, the only politician who doesn’t regularly use a teleprompter. With a prompter, he says, you can’t work the crowd. You can’t feel it. ”You got to look at them in the eye. Have you ever seen me speak in front of a large group of people? Have you ever watched?” He reflects on the lack of self-consciousness that’s necessary to make spontaneous utterances before a crowd. He cites a well-known actor (whose name he asks me not to use, ”I don’t want to hurt anybody”), who had wanted to run for office but, without a script, was a blithering idiot. Trump was never fed lines on The Apprentice, he says. It was all him: ”You have to have a natural ability.”

[…]

The anti-Christ Trump, the Trump of bizarre, outre, impractical and reactionary policies that most reasonable people yet believe will lead to an astounding defeat in November, is really hard to summon from Trump in person. He deflects that person, or, even, dissembles about what that person might have said (as much, he dissembles for conservatives about what the more liberal Trump might have said), and is impatient that anyone might want to focus on that version of Trump. It does then feel that the policies, such as they are, and the slurs, are not him. They are just a means to the end — to the phenomenon. To the center of attention. The biggest thing that has ever happened in politics. In America. The biggest thing is the theme. It’s what he always wants to come back to. Bigness is unavoidable and inevitable. Bigness always wins.

Läs mer: ”3 key ways Donald Trump’s Hollywood Reporter interview explains his Campaign” på Vox.com.

Tidskriftsomslag: The Hollywood Reporter den 10 juni 2016.

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VAL 2016 | Var finns de framgångsrika demokratiska och socialistiska politiska konsulterna i amerikansk politik?

Bernie Sanders

Den retoriska frågan ställde Bernie Sanders när han intervjuades i Rolling Stone av Tim Dickinson.

Frågan var intressant med tanke på att Sanders valkampanj har ett överskott av entusiasm, inte minst från sina unga gräsrötter men ett underskott av professionella medarbetare.

Team Sanders har varit duktiga på att två saker: samla in stora mängder pengar från vanligt folk och locka stora folkmassor till sina valmöten.

Mindre framgångsrika har man varit när det gäller att stå emot attackerna från Hillary Clintons professionella medarbetare med stor erfarenhet från tidigare valrörelser.

Men en annan förklaring till att Sanders hamnat på efterkälken är att han säkerligen inte förväntade sig få en sådan positiv respons bland de demokratiska väljarna.

Även Sanders trodde nog att det skulle bli en promenadseger för Clinton. Sanders hoppades nog bara på att kunna påverka Clinton och partiets valplattform i en mer positiv riktning.

On a campaign, a candidate gets so much advice. Who’s been the lodestar – the person or people that you return to for guidance?

The difficulty that we have had in this campaign is that if you have the politics of somebody like a Hillary Clinton, you can bring together a team with a whole lot of political experience, people who have been part of Bill Clinton’s campaigns or administration, or Al Gore’s efforts, pollsters or media people or great surrogates. That is what the establishment Democratic Party has – hundreds of very knowledgeable people. Sophisticated people. I know many of them. I’ve been in the rooms during Obama’s campaigns. I have looked at the chart of literally the 39 different ways Obama can win. ”If you lose Wisconsin but you win New Je rsey and bup, bup, bup…”

But there aren’t a whole lot of people who understand the day-to-day mechanics of running a presidential campaign, who have history running a campaign for a candidate like myself. You tell me: Where are the democratic-socialist political consultants who have been involved in successful campaigns in recent history? There aren’t any. So we’ve had to put together our own campaign by the seat of our pants. And that’s been hard. We started this campaign with a handful of people from Vermont, people I’ve known for 20 or 30 years. And it’s grown. We’ve used people who have experience in the Democratic Party – the best that we can find. And we have political activists involved. We’ve met some great people over the campaign. A lot of great surrogates, from Nina Turner to Chuy Garcia to Killer Mike to Danny Glover, Susan Sarandon – great people from different walks of life who gravitated into the campaign.

Bild: Talking Union.

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SWEXIT | Den som följde den svenska debatten kring Brexit lade säkert märke till att Jonas Sjöstedt syntes mer än vanligt i media.

Jonas Sjöstedt

Men vad ville Sjöstedt med alla sina framträdanden? Det är inte säkert att någon riktigt uppfattade något tydligt budskap.

Vänsterpartiet verkar inte riktigt veta vilken fot man skall stå på när det gäller frågan om en eventuell svensk folkomröstning om EU-medlemskapet.

Men läser man mellan raderna kan man ana att partiet skulle välkomna en folkomröstning. Men tydligen vågar man inte säga detta rent ut. Därav deras minst sagt vaga budskap.

Troligtvis är man rädd att äventyra Vänsterpartiets strategi att alltid försöka framstå som ”statsmannamässig”. Detta kräver att man inte uppfattas som ett ytterlighetsparti i viktiga frågor.

När Vänsterpartiet inte fick ingå i den rödgröna koalitionen var Sjöstedts upprördhet påtaglig. Men istället för att dra maximal nytta av sin oppositionsroll har partiet valt att fortsätta på den inslagna vägen.

En annan orsak till att man inte vågar ta ordet folkomröstning i sin mun är att man då skulle hamna på samma sida som Sverigedemokraterna i frågan. Därav deras något krystade resonemang kring Brexit och dess konsekvenser för Sverige.

Så här lät t.ex. Sjöstedt i Svenska Dagbladet inför folkomröstningen i Storbritannien:

Den brittiska kritiken mot EU har flera ansikten. Kritik mot EU-medlemskapet finns från både höger och vänster. Men en påfallande högljudd del av den brittiska EU-kritiken präglas av nationalism, traditionell högerpolitik och ibland ren främlingsfientlighet. Det är en form av EU-kritik som vi känner oss främmande inför. Vi kommer därför inte att stödja någon sådan brittisk nej-kampanj. Vår EU-kritik handlar om folkstyre, självbestämmanderätt och demokrati.

[…]

Om Storbritannien väljer att lämna EU bör de erbjudas ett nära samarbete med ett nytt avtal med EU. Ett avtal som kan ersätta dagens EES-avtal och i vilket även Norge kan ingå. Ett sådant avtal ska garantera fri varuhandel utan tullar och personers fria rörlighet. Samtidigt måste maktförhållandena i ett sådant avtal ändras så att de inte ensidigt bygger på att samtliga länder ska tillämpa EU-rätten. För att vara hållbart på sikt bör avtalet vara ett avtal mellan jämbördiga parter när gemensamma regler utformas.

Ett sådant nytt avtal skulle göra ett brittiskt utträde ur EU mindre dramatiskt och kunna vara grunden för ett gott framtida samarbete mellan våra länder. Ett brittiskt utträde ur EU skulle säkerligen starta en debatt om fortsatt EU-medlemskap i Sverige och andra EU-länder. Ett bra samarbetsavtal skulle vara ett bra alternativ om/när Sverige eller andra länder i framtiden väljer att lämna EU.

Detta låter som Sjöstedt både vill ha kakan och äta den.

Rivalen Kommunistiska Partiet har satt fingret på Vänsterpartiets ömma punkt. Så här skrev Jenny Tedjeza, chefredaktören på partitidningen Proletären, om partiets inställning:

Vänsterpartiet har, för att behålla sin parlamentariska ställning, stegvis tonat ner kravet på ett EU-utträde och därmed lämnat öppet fält för högerpopulistiska och nationalistiska strömningar att ta över. För att sedan använda den yttersta högerns EU-motstånd som en förevändning för att i praktiken helt överge kravet på utträde.

När det nu visar sig att Storbritannien är EU-kedjans svagaste länk och Brexit-anhängarna ser ut att kunna vinna torsdagens folkomröstning vägrar därför Vänsterpartiet och Jonas Sjöstedt att ta ställning, just med hänvisning till de nationalistiska, främlingsfientliga och konservativa elementen i Brexit-kampanjen.

Istället bekänner sig Vänsterpartiet idag till den diffusa EU-kritik som bygger på föreställningen att unionen kan göras mer progressiv inifrån.

Klockrent.

Sjöstedt skulle aldrig erkänna det men Vänsterpartiets strategi hamnar bra nära premiärminister David Camerons inför folkomröstningen.

Så här skrev tidskriften The Spectator i en kritisk ledare efter Brexitvalet:

His strategy of holding a renegotiation of Britain’s terms of membership with the EU, followed by an in-out referendum, was logical.

[…]

The fault with Cameron’s strategy is that it was based on a false premise: that the EU is open to reform. It is not and never will be. The louder the voices for reform, the more its unelected leaders retreat into their siege positions. The threat of a British referendum was supposed to jolt them into the realisation that their dream of a pan-European pseudo-state is less and less shared by the public. But instead of sending scouts to hear what the people wanted, they stayed up on the ramparts and boiled the oil ready to pour on the mob.

Detta vet även Jonas Sjöstedt. Trots detta har han valt att låta mer som David Cameron än EU-motståndarna på den svenska vänsterkanten, inklusive de som finns inom det egna partiet.

Expressen ställde en direkt fråga till honom efter valet i Storbritannien. Sjöstedts lät återigen som den konservative premiärministern innan han tvingades gå med på en folkomröstning om EU.

– Det kan komma ett läge då vi tar upp frågan om folkomröstning om ett utträde i Sverige, säger han.

[…]

Vänsterpartiet var det enda av riksdagspartierna som inte ville ta ställning inför omröstningen. När beskedet om brexit kom på midsommaraftons morgon meddelade V-ledaren att han vill omförhandla det svenska medlemskapet.

Men du sträcker dig inte så långt som att du vill ha ett swexit?

– Det kan komma ett läge då vi tar upp frågan om folkomröstning om ett utträde i Sverige. Men då vill vi först veta vad som är förutsättningarna för ett omförhandlat medlemskap.

Detta är tydligen Vänsterpartiets försök att triangulera. Men vaghet i stora avgörande frågor brukar inte belönas av väljarna. Vi får se om det lyckas för Sjöstedt.

Bild: Anna-Karin Nilsson / Anna-Karin Nilsson Expressen.

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VAL 2016 | Vem har det tuffaste jobbet i amerikansk politik? Inte helt osannolikt Reince Priebus. Han är nämligen ordförande i Republican National Committee.

Bloomberg Businessweek

Det är han som har till uppgift att se till att partiets insatser under presidentvalet ligger i fas med partiets presidentkandidat.

Med tanke på att RNC är det republikanska partiets etablissemang kommer Priebus att få en delikat uppgift att hantera när Donald Trump väl blir republikanernas presidentkandidat.

En anledning till att Trump blivit populär bland gräsrötterna är att han aldrig tvekat att peka på det egna partiets fel och brister. Både när det gäller politiken och politikernas tendens att skärma sig från sina väljares verklighet.

I Joshua Greens artikel om Priebus i Bloomberg Businessweek säger t.ex. mångmiljonären Trump att han vill göra om partiet till ett arbetarparti. Bland topparna vill man hellre se partiet som företagarnas parti.

Detta är bara ett av många exempel på hur Trumps politiska idéer ligger långt ifrån vad partietablissemanget vill höra från sin presidentkandidat.

Ett pågående inbördeskrig mellan Trump och partitopparna är knappast den mest optimal utgångspunkten inför en valrörelse. Inte konstigt att Hillary Clinton och demokraterna gnuggar händerna.

Priebus’s mission at the RNC has been to manufacture some luck: to rebuild a party that lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections and lost power completely with Barack Obama’s 2008 victory. While Republicans traded recriminations after Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012, Priebus announced that the RNC would conduct a rigorous postmortem of all that had gone wrong and figure out how to refashion the party for the 21st century. “It wasn’t the RNC’s fault that things didn’t work out in 2012,” says Sally Bradshaw, a senior Jeb Bush adviser and a co-author of the resulting report. “But Priebus was willing to say, ‘There’s no other entity that can do this, that can take this on.’ ” The key to revival, the authors concluded, was to put a kinder, gentler gloss on the old stalwart Republican ideals (free trade, small government) while reforming immigration laws to entice nonwhite voters who were tuning the party out.

This was a comforting notion, but it hasn’t panned out. “The Jeb Bush guys wrote the autopsy,” says a frustrated Republican strategist who works with the RNC. “Then Jeb Bush ran the worst campaign in presidential history.” By obliterating Jeb, Trump redefined the Republican Party’s identity off the top of his head. And his vision of the GOP’s future is in many ways the diametrical opposite of what Priebus and the party Establishment had imagined. Many politicians, Trump told me, had privately confessed to being amazed that his policies, and his lacerating criticism of party leaders, had proved such potent electoral medicine. Trump says this was obvious, but craven Republicans wouldn’t acknowledge it. So he called bulls—. “It’s funny,” he told me, delighted by the swift triumph of his influence. “It’s like the paper clip: a very simple thing. But one guy got rich, and everyone else said, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ ”

[…]

Priebus won added plaudits from the donor class for the autopsy, which was officially titled the Growth & Opportunity Project and released in March 2013. While lauding the GOP’s strength in Congress and statehouses, it warned that the angry, strident tone many Republicans directed toward Hispanics and other minorities threatened the party’s viability: “If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e., self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence.” The report continued: “We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.”

[…]

While the report was unblinking about the need to win more support from women, minorities, and young people, it betrayed no hint that Republican policies beyond immigration reform might need adjusting to attract them.

[…]

In bypassing a major course correction, the party fell into an old pattern that typically follows presidential losses. “Defeated parties almost always behave according to the dictates of their own party cultures rather than engage in a more objective analysis of how they should respond,” says Philip Klinkner, a Hamilton College political scientist and expert on party committees.

[…]

More often, parties avoid true introspection. “Republicans in particular,” says Klinkner, “focus on organizational and managerial changes and don’t talk about politics.”

Why not? Well, for one thing, politics is divisive. “Nobody wants to talk content, because that’s hard and you get yelled at on the radio by Rush Limbaugh,” says Mike Murphy, the veteran Republican strategist who ran Jeb Bush’s super PAC, Right to Rise. “So instead they talk process: ‘The RNC is building a new, lithium-cooled supercomputer in the basement, and we’re going to have better microtargeting and organize everybody in America on their cell phone with go-get-’em apps.’ ”

Even so, conservatives railed against the Growth & Opportunity Project, pointing out its major policy recommendation—immigration reform—was something the GOP Establishment has sought for years, over intense grass-roots opposition.

[…]

But then came Trump, a walking exaggeration of every negative attribute the autopsy had warned against. Priebus won the Establishment’s heart—but it turned out voters loved Trump. As chairman, Priebus had a choice: resign or get behind the nominee. He chose the latter, even though it entailed addressing every outrageous comment from Trump.

[…]

“If I didn’t come along, the Republican Party had zero chance of winning the presidency,” Trump told me, sitting beside a scale model Trump airplane in his Trump Tower office.

He was explaining his own Growth & Opportunity plan. Its primary component is, of course, Trump. But there’s more to it. Just as he showed an instinct for devastating personal invective (“Lyin’ Ted”), he also seemed to intuit that standard Republican dogma no longer appeals to large swaths of the party electorate. Although it was overshadowed by his feuds and insults, he conveyed and defended a clear set of ideas that drew record numbers of Republican primary voters, even though—or more likely because—they often cut against right-wing orthodoxy: protect Social Security benefits, defend Planned Parenthood, restrict free trade, avoid foolish Middle East wars, deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, build a wall. Trump believes the scale of his victory proves the strength of his proposals. “All these millions and millions of people,” he marveled, echoing Bernie Sanders. “It’s a movement.”

[…]

I asked Trump what he thought the GOP would look like in five years. “Love the question,” he replied. “Five, 10 years from now—different party. You’re going to have a worker’s party. A party of people that haven’t had a real wage increase in 18 years, that are angry. What I want to do, I think cutting Social Security is a big mistake for the Republican Party. And I know it’s a big part of the budget. Cutting it the wrong way is a big mistake, and even cutting it [at all].” He explained the genesis of his heterodox views. “I’m not sure I got there through deep analysis,” he said. “My views are what everybody else’s views are. When I give speeches, sometimes I’ll sign autographs and I’ll get to talk to people and learn a lot about the party.” He says he learned that voters were disgusted with Republican leaders and channeled their outrage.

[…]

The question everyone wonders is, what effect will this have on the party? If Trump wins, he’ll have even less incentive to toe the party line. If he loses, conservatives will spin it as a decisive verdict on all that he says and stands for. They’ll cast his nomination as an embarrassing dalliance by Republican voters who, chastened, will return to the fold. Everything will be as it was before.

But presidential elections always produce new ideas. Trump will change the Republican Party, win or lose. He chose to define himself against conservative legacy, and voters responded. Other politicians will see his success and mimic him. As he says, it’s simple—like a paper clip.

Tidskriftsomslag: Bloomberg Businessweek, 30 maj-6 juni 2016.

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VAL 2016 | Bilden av Donald Trump är att han alltid säger vad som faller honom in för stunden. Men kanske är detta bara en myt som borde avlivas.

New York Magazine - April 4, 2016

Enligt Gabriel Sherman, i tidskriften New York, tog man fram en strategi för hur valrörelsen skulle bedrivas långt innan Trump lanserades som presidentkandidat.

Ansvarig för den informationsinhämtning, kartläggning och planläggning som krävdes var, enligt Sherman, Trump själv.

As much as his campaign appears off the cuff, Trump diligently laid the groundwork for his 2016 run over the course of several years, cultivating relationships with powerful allies in the conservative firmament and in the media, inviting them to private meetings at Trump Tower and golf outings in Florida, all the while collecting intelligence that he has deployed to devastating effect.

As early as 1987, Trump talked publicly about his desire to run for president. He toyed with mounting a campaign in 2000 on the Reform Party ticket, and again in 2012 as a Republican (this was at the height of his Obama birtherism). Two years later, Trump briefly explored running for governor of New York as a springboard to the White House. “I have much bigger plans in mind — stay tuned,” he tweeted in March 2014.

Trump taped another season of The Apprentice that year, but he kept a political organization intact. His team at the time consisted of three advisers: Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, and Sam Nunberg. Stone is a veteran operative, known for his gleeful use of dirty tricks and for ending Eliot Spitzer’s political career by leaking his patronage of prostitutes to the FBI. Cohen is Trump’s longtime in-house attorney. And Nunberg is a lawyer wired into right-wing politics who has long looked up to “Mr. Trump,” as he calls him. “I first met him at Wrestle­Mania when I was like 5 years old,” Nunberg told me.

Throughout 2014, the three fed Trump strategy memos and political intelligence. “I listened to thousands of hours of talk radio, and he was getting reports from me,” Nunberg recalled. What those reports said was that the GOP base was frothing over a handful of issues including immigration, Obamacare, and Common Core. While Jeb Bush talked about crossing the border as an “act of love,” Trump was thinking about how high to build his wall. “We either have borders or we don’t,” Trump told the faithful who flocked to the annual CPAC conference in 2014.

Meanwhile, Trump used his wealth as a strategic tool to gather his own intelligence. When Citizens United president David Bossie or GOP chairman Reince Priebus called Trump for contributions, Trump used the conversations as opportunities to talk about 2016. “Reince called Trump thinking they were talking about donations, but Trump was asking him hard questions,” recalled Nunberg. From his conversations with Priebus, Trump learned that the 2016 field was likely to be crowded. “We knew it was going to be like a parliamentary election,” Nunberg said.

Which is how Trump’s scorched-earth strategy coalesced. To break out of the pack, he made what appears to be a deliberate decision to be provocative, even outrageous. “If I were totally presidential, I’d be one of the many people who are already out of the race,” Trump told me. And so, Trump openly stoked racial tensions and appealed to the latent misogyny of a base that thinks of Hillary as the world’s most horrible ballbuster.

[…]

One way in which Trump’s campaign is like others is that its advisers have jousted for primacy. Over the summer, Lewandowski became embroiled in a battle for control with Stone, Nunberg, and Cohen. The principal fault line was over Stone and Nunberg’s belief that Trump needed to invest money into building a real campaign infrastructure and Lewandowski’s contention that their current approach was working fine.

[…]

Having won the power struggle with Nunberg and Stone, Lewandowski focused on letting “Trump be Trump,” which is what Trump wanted too. There would be no expensive television ad campaigns, no bus tours or earnest meet-and-greets at greasy spoons. Instead, the cornerstones of Trump’s strategy are stadium rallies and his ubiquitous presence on television and social media. “Mr. Trump is the star,” Hicks said.

Pundits have scoffed at this. Trump has no “ground game,” they say. His refusal to spend money on television ads spells disaster. But from the beginning, Trump knew he was onto something. “I remember I had one event in New Hampshire right next to Bush,” Trump told me. “I had 4,500 people, many people standing outside in the cold. Bush had 67 people! Right next door! And I said, ‘Why is he going to win?’ ”

[…]

The small scale and near-constant proximity mean they can respond to events quickly. In February, when the pope suggested Trump might not be a Christian owing to his plan to build a wall along the border, the campaign struck back within minutes. “If and when the Vatican is attacked by isis, which as everyone knows is isis’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president,” his statement said. Lewandowski recalled how it happened: “We found out about it as Mr. Trump was giving a speech on Kiawah Island in South Carolina, and within three minutes or less, he provided the response to Hope.” (By contrast, Clinton’s tweets are vetted by layers of advisers. “It’s very controlled,” one said to me.)

But if speed is the advantage of the small campaign, insularity is its inherent disadvantage. By all accounts, Trump doesn’t seek much counsel beyond his staff and children.

[…]

Meanwhile, the Trump team has poured almost all of its efforts into producing rallies down to the most minute details. At a Christmas-themed one I attended in Cedar Rapids in December, eight perfectly symmetrical Christmas trees lined the stage. As Lewandowski told me, “It’s all about the visual.” He requires reporters to stay behind metal barricades and positions television cameras for the most dramatic shots. “We want to know, what does it look like when he walks out on the stage?” Lewandowski said. “Sometimes we’ll allow cameras up close, sometimes we’ll show Mr. Trump on the rope line.” And the networks, hungry for ratings, have played by these strict rules.

[…]

After the rallies, Trump makes sure his fans stay mobilized. Everyone who attends a rally has to register by email, and the campaign uses this list, which Lewandowski estimates is “in the millions at this point,” to turn out voters. Most campaigns spend a lot of money to acquire voter lists; Trump largely built his own. “If you look at what the Obama campaign achieved many years ago, they were successful at bringing new people in, and then communicating with those people. What we’re doing is not dissimilar,” Lewandowski explained.

Tidskriftsomslag: New York den 4-17 april 2016.

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VAL 2016 | Den som tror att det bara är Donald Trump som spelar ”hardball” i årets valrörelse borde titta närmare på striden mellan Sanders och Hillary Clinton.

Time June 6 2016

I början såg det ut som om demokraterna skulle kunna genomföra sin valkampanj i en civiliserad ton och utan smutskastning. Men det var innan Clinton blev trängd av Sanders överraskande framgångar.

Idag är det ingen som tror att deras kampanjer skiljer sig nämnvärt från hur det brukar se ut i amerikanska valrörelser. Clinton och Sanders har båda visat att de kan ge och ta som riktiga politiska sluggers.

Philip Elliott och Sam Frizell har i en artikel för tidskriften Time tittat tillbaka på hur relationen mellan de två presidentkandidaterna har utvecklats under valrörelsen.

Sanders didn’t expect to win; he wanted to make some points and push a progressive agenda. If he were planning on running a traditional campaign, he would have rented bigger headquarters. Longtime Sanders aides assured reporters and donors that their boss would never run a negative ad against Clinton.

[…]

If Sanders had promised never to go negative, no Clinton had ever done so. The hammer fell during the first debate in October. When a moderator asked Clinton if Sanders had a tough enough record on guns, she pounced. “No, not at all,” Clinton said of her rival, who represents a mostly rural state. Months later, Sanders still smarts over the constant attacks about guns.“The idea that I am being called a tool of the NRA, a supporter of the NRA, is really quite outrageous,” he says.

Soon the hits from Clinton’s boosters were relentless. Sanders’ aides expected them, but the candidate’s shock at the Clintons’ hard-nosed politics was unmistakable. The tactics went against his hopes for a high-­minded campaign fought on issues, not on microfiche or her email practices. And as Sanders’ crowds grew, so did his poll numbers and contributions from small donors. And so did the Clinton attacks.

[…]

In fact, the Clinton machine was just warming up. Clinton researchers had spent months digging into Sanders’ vulnerabilities—standard operating procedure for any modern campaign—and countless outside allies offered their binders of research too. There was plenty to go around: he was once ambivalent about South American socialist dictatorships, he honeymooned in the Soviet Union, he voted against the Wall Street bailout that ultimately helped U.S. autoworkers and he had been critical of Barack Obama’s first term. Clinton tagged Sanders for being AWOL during the fight for health care in 1993 and ’94, despite plenty of TV footage and photography to the contrary. Fair or not, the onslaught left Sanders upset; he had never faced this kind of scrutiny. “We know a lot of stuff has been leaked into the papers which are lies and distortions,” Sanders says. “Their response is, ‘Look, that’s the world we live in, that’s what you gotta do.’ I understand that. I don’t think that’s what you gotta do.”

Goaded by his insular, mostly male circle of advisers, Sanders lashed back, questioning Clinton’s integrity and railing against her speaking fees from big corporations and Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs. “He got into a space where he felt comfortable pushing back,” says an adviser. “People get into a corner and they strike back very hard.” The cordial chitchat between their aides in the post-­debate spin rooms stopped or turned confrontational, with Clinton adviser Karen Finney and former NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, a Sanders ally, clashing in open view of reporters after one forum in Flint, Mich.

By spring, the candidates had stopped calling each other to offer congratulations on victories. Backstage at a campaign event in early April, an aide showed Sanders a headline in the Washington Post: “Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president.” Without reading the story, Sanders scribbled on his legal pad and angrily charged onto the stage at a Philadelphia event, saying “the American people might want to wonder about your qualifications, Madame Secretary!” Of all the arguments to make against Clinton, unqualified was perhaps not the strongest.

None of this was happening in a vacuum. Voters were paying attention, and in a year that favored outsiders over insiders, many cheered on Sanders, who chops his own wood for his stove and has never worn a tuxedo, even after 25 years in Washington. By West Virginia’s May 10 primary, exit polls showed as many as a third of Sanders supporters were saying that, to deliver the revolution their man was demanding, they would rather vote for Trump than Clinton.

[…]

She and her advisers know they must give Sanders something he can count as a win, lest they lose to Trump. Clinton’s closest advisers have promised him an open ear and a seat at the table in Philadelphia.

[…]

And if Sanders comes away empty-handed, more than the White House is at stake. A left-center split in the Democratic Party will unfold, and where that leads no one knows.

Tidskriftsomslag: Den amerikanska utgåvan av Time den 6 juni 2016.

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